Service of Uneven Performances During a Pandemic

June 18th, 2020

Categories: Customer Care, Customer Service, Insurance, Post Office, Vote


When a company or organization works well these days it does so splendidly and when it doesn’t……I’ve encountered both.

Kudos to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. In spite of the pandemic, its staff sent me a receipt in record time acknowledging they’d destroyed the license plates we’d shipped to them. Shortly thereafter I received a refund check for what they owed me because there was still time on my registration.

It took a shockingly few minutes to cancel my auto insurance. When I called USAA the customer service person trusted the date on my motor vehicles receipt and voila! Done.


On the other hand, the New York State Board of Elections so far gets an F. I requested a write-in ballot well over a month ago and since have read and heard countless suggestions from the NYC Mayor and others urging folks to do the same. The deadline to vote in the June 23 primary is approaching and no ballot as of yesterday. I reported this to my councilman’s office. The staffer who took the message said that someone in the office was looking into this as plenty of others are in the same boat.


Have you tried to call Verizon? Ha! What a rigamarole to report a change of address! I was refused access to my online account; live chat doesn’t handle this task and sent me back to the site I couldn’t enter. There is no place on the bill to  make the address adjustment. I pleaded with Mr. or Ms. Live Chat for a phone number which I got. I called,  clicking on “technical difficulties” to get a person who heard my distress and transferred me to a woman in the finance department. Jackpot. Let’s hope I get the next bill at the right address. Time wasted: 3/4 of a frustrating anxiety-provoking  hour.

I filled out the online United States Postal Service change of address form and when done was asked for my credit card number. I thought “I must be in a scam lookalike website,” and clicked off. I then asked for the old fashioned paper form at the post office and mentioned the credit card request that had alarmed me. The postal clerk told me that I was on the right site and that online address changes cost $1. I’d be happy to donate $1 but the reason for the charge and credit card request should have been made clear. I’ve been burned before: I thought I was on a site that I had accessed. It was an almost-the-same address. The mistake scrambled my computer requiring an expert to salvage it.

One friend still waits for her stimulus check when everyone else seems to have received theirs; another in an adjacent state hasn’t seen a cent of unemployment money in six weeks. She called the office 70 times one day and couldn’t get through.

Please share experiences that you have faced trying to get things done during the pandemic– more remarkable than exasperating I trust.



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6 Responses to “Service of Uneven Performances During a Pandemic”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    I’m surprised with Verizon’s reportedly bad behavior. When the company is overloaded with calls, it estimates the wait time, then asks the caller if he wants a callback in XYZ minutes. It keeps its word, and one usually gets a capable rep. The occasional challenge is the super thick Indian accent.

    If no absentee ballot is forthcoming, early voting is in effect every day through Sunday, so show up at the voting place (it may not be at its regular location), and call the BOE for time & place information. It’s best to vote in person if you can. Be aware that the BOE is a state agency, so the city council and mayor (for a change) are not responsible for blunders.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    When I’ve called Verizon for technical issues, what you described happened. But I simply needed to report a change of address. As it turned out, I should have not tried to do the right thing and use their website for this procedure ending up frustrated and irritated. In fact, I called tech when nothing else worked.

    I will check out early voting. Thanks. I wanted a write in ballot–my first–so I didn’t have to hang around inside a space with others. In fact, there was a special box on the form indicating Covid-19 as the reason for wanting the ballot. I control my time indoors in public places: I’m in and out of a grocery or drug store in short order. I don’t enter if there are too many people. If there is a resurgence of the virus in fall as some have warned, I hope they’ve figured out how to get out ballots.

    The disconnect was peculiar, urging people to write in for ballots when they hadn’t responded to the requests they already had.

    I called the councilman for 2 reasons: One, because I had his number in my phone and I was lazy and two because I figured he’d want to know about the glitch when it was time for him to run for office again.

  3. MarthaTakayama Said:

    I am afraid that most everything is not working well during this pandemic. My days and nights during the lockdown period have been spent mostly agonizing over failure to connect \to the internet with no real assistance from Comcast X-finity. My husband and I would seem to be victims of consumer fraud. Somehow my husband after days and hours of fruitless conversations with X-finity Comcast managed last night to connect us to the net. I am holding my breath wondering if it will last.

    I have had money taken illegally from my Bank of America account in 2 different ways from the same company, in spite of reporting to the Bank’s so-called Fraud department and filing a police report. I have no understanding from the bank’s cryptic acknowledgement what is being done or if I will get my money back. Furthermore in 2020 Bank of America requires their claim form to be FAXED, requiring leaving the house.

    I don’t see people adhering particularly to rules for wearing masks or social distancing. As a nation we are not addressing the reality of the pandemic. Occasional kind customer service people attending to my phone marathons are the only relief I encounter from the general malaise of a non-functioning leaderless country with all the elements of a banana republic mired in hatred and despair. Sorry for the gloom, but it is hard to overcome.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Clearly you have been through the ringer battling with many large entities. Quelle mess at a time where patience is in short supply.

    I think faxes are required in some legal instances but 1) who owns a fax anymore and 2) you’d think under the circumstances of a pandemic a photo of a document taken by a phone would suffice. But your Internet has been on the fritz….so even that would be a challenge. Golly.

    This week must be better. Meanwhile, deep breaths!

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    Addendum: In my gloom I forgot to write about Boston Mayor Martin J Walsh, who continues to distinguish himself during the Pandemic. He has shown courage creativity, and an extremely broad vision of government. Walsh was the first mayor of a major city to order a construction shut-down on March 16. He stressed
    “A cautious approach as city” looked to reopen.

    He blasted U.S. Attorney General William Barr after Barr’s official meeting in June with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. Mayor Walsh declared racism a public health crisis in Boston, on June 20, and said he will seek to transfer 20% of police overtime budget to social services. He also said, “In Boston, we embrace the opportunity this moment and this movement offers us,” said Mayor Walsh. “We stand with our Black community and communities of color to lead the change toward a more just and equitable society. With these actions, we will increase equity in public safety and public health, and launch a conversation that can produce lasting, systemic change to eliminate all the ways that racism and inequality harm our residents.”

    He has been given positive reaction from community leaders. He has also broadcast from Boston Public Library, taken questions and answers from the public and announced the launch of a new philanthropic endeavor created to support, sustain, and strengthen the Boston Public Library. He constantly grows in stature as a leader for all his constituents and for others beyond the city limits.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What wonderful news! Mayor Walsh sounds like a keeper with his pulse on his constituents and what they want and need. There are a few clear voices in politics and I hope that they attract more like them. We are in desperate need.

    I have such sad feelings about the New York Public Library–there is little budget, no volunteer support.

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